In an unfortunate tragedy involving India Railways, a least 37 people were mowed down by a speeding express train Monday in Bihar's Khagaria district. The dead include women and children who were standing on rail tracks when the incident happened.
The event triggered angry protests by locals who attacked train drivers, set ablaze a coach and vandalised the station, the Times of India reported.
Reportedly Hindu devotees of Lord Shiva were walking along the tracks at Dhamara Ghat station when the Patna-bound Rajyarani Express ran over them at high speed, according to a senior railway official.
The tragedy took place at Khagaria, about 160 km from Patna.
The Wall Street Journal reported:
“Those walking on the tracks were possibly unaware that the express wouldn't stop at the station, said N.S. Patiyal, a senior railway official in Bihar.”
The train was bound for Patna from Saharsa when the accident took place around 8.30 a.m. reportedly, the train did not have a scheduled stop at Dhamara station.
The death toll is expected to rise. Some of the injured are in critical condition. The state government ordered an investigation to determine the cause of the accident.
Following the incident, an irate mob assaulted the train driver, set on fire an AC compartment and engine of another train, vandalized the station and reportedly held a few of the railway staff hostage for some time, according to reports.
According to the Railway Board chairman Arunendra Kumar, “the express was not supposed to halt at Dhamara Ghat and was given clearance to pass through, but the pilgrims on the tracks thought they could stop the train,” the Times of India reported.
Reportedly, the driver applied the emergency brakes but it was too late by then.
India's state-owned rail network is the life-line for Indians travelling long-distance. The vast railway network carries at least 25 million people every day to various destinations across the length and breadth of India.
Safety remains a pressing issue for Indian Railways. Reportedly every year, a large number of people get killed due to unlawful trespassing, according to a government report.
An estimated 15,000 people get killed every year due to railway trespassing, the report said.